The Washington State Department of Health certifies dieticians and nutritionists; therefore, only those individuals who are certified in Washington as nutritionists can use the designation of “certified nutritionist” or CN.
Individuals who want to learn how to become a nutritionist in Washington may achieve nutritionist certification in one of two ways:
Note: There are no examination or supervised experience requirements for becoming a nutritionist when qualifying through the completion of a master’s or doctoral degree.
Becoming a certified dietician in Washington requires:
In addition to completing and signing the Dietician/Nutritionist Certification Application Packet, applicants must submit an application fee of $116 and submit the following:
If qualifying for a nutritionist certificate in Washington by meeting the requirements of a dietician, applicants must provide the following to the Washington State Department of Health:
If qualifying for a nutritionist certificate in Washington by completing a master’s or doctoral degree in a nutrition-related subject area, applicants must provide the following to the Washington State Department of Health:
All applicants must answer a number of personal data questions, which require an appropriate explanation, and required documentation must be sent with positive answers.
The personal statement includes questions about the applicant’s:
Further, all applicants are required to complete at least 4 hours of HIV/AIDS training.
Nutritionists in Washington must renew their certification every year on or before their birthday. The cost of renewal is $86.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nutritionists in the metropolitan area of Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Washington ranked eighth in the nation for the employment level of nutritionists, as of May 2013. Nutritionists in this metropolitan area earned an annual, mean salary of $65,220 during this time.
Nutritionists may find a number of job opportunities through some of Washington’s largest hospital and nursing home systems, including:
“Obesity in this country went from 18 percent to 40 percent in 20 years – this is not genetics, this is behavior,” observes the CEO of Safeway in a Wall Street Journal piece on curbing healthcare expenditures. In what couldn't be a better illustration of why health coaches are in such high demand in Washington and throughout the nation, this comment hints at several important issues affecting the state:
That's why companies like Seattle's Vera Whole Health are growing. Recognizing the need for preventative healthcare services, Vera hires health coaches to work with its contracting partners on things like healthy lifestyle management, stress reduction techniques, nutrition improvement, and exercise promotion.
Other organizations are investing directly in health coaching. A 2014 article in USA Today details how King County saved $46 million in healthcare costs for its 14,000 employees by investing $15 million in a health and wellness program for its workforce. This program encouraged county employees to work with health coaches and develop individual health action plans, smoking cessation plans, and strategies to manage diabetes.
Business leaders and those in government who are concerned about healthcare expenditures have taken particular notice of health coaches. In fact, Safeway's CEO noted in that same WSJ article that 75 percent of health care costs stem from four largely preventable conditions: obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer. By employing health coaches in an effort to bolster prevention, not only are employees happier, but they also generate less healthcare expenses and take fewer sick days. Still, 2014 statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that government and business leaders in Washington still have plenty to be concerned about:
Even as those living in the greater Seattle area are recognized as being among the healthiest and most active of any metro area in the country, there’s still work to be done in Western Washington and throughout the state. Improving the current state of things in Washington is dependent on decisions made at the individual level. Making health coaching services widely available is one critical part of the solution.
Even though there isn’t currently any legally mandated credentialing requirements, not just anyone can say they are a health coach. Prospective employers and clients alike want to see solid qualifications to back up your passion for helping people live healthier more satisfying lives. This kind of career preparation comes in the form of a relevant college degree and professional certification. Not only do these provide reassurance to clients; they also help justify a higher starting salary.
Earning a degree or professional certification in health coaching means learning about a wide range of topics that can include:
Associate's, Bachelor's, and Master's Degree Options
The following are just some examples of degree programs available online and at campus locations throughout Washington that would prepare you for a career in health coaching. An associate’s degree can get your foot in the door for entry-level positions, but a bachelor’s degree is the more common requirement for most health coach jobs in Washington. If you already have a degree in an unrelated field and are looking to make a career change, a master’s degree or graduate certificate may be right for you.
Non-Degree Health Coach Certification Programs
Professional certifications are available through so many different organizations that it can be a bit overwhelming as you begin to consider all your options. While each sponsoring organization has its own requirements, these generally involve completing a months-long course of study and passing a final examination. Most employers will have a specific requirement for what certification they expect their health coaches to hold and often provide the time and resources for new-hires to become certified within the first months of employment. For this reason, it’s often a good idea to consider employment options and secure a job based on the merits of your degree before selecting a professional certification program.
Currently the American Council on Education (ACE) is the only organization that is accredited through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). The ACE health coach program offers three certification routes designed for specific career paths:
The time between when you earn your health coach credentials and before you land your first job can be very exciting. This is the point you've been building up to as you completed your education and earned your qualifications. Most health coaches in Washington find employment opportunities in one of these categories:
Companies and organizations in Washington that have been known to hire health coaches include:
The following job vacancy announcements, sourced in September 2016, represent the types of employment opportunities available to properly credentialed health coaches in Washington. These job vacancy announcements are shown for illustrative purposes only and are not meant to represent job offers or provide an assurance of employment.
Health Coach with Vivacity in Mountlake Terrace – To-date health coaches with Vivacity have helped their clients lose 4,000 pounds of body fat. One of Vivacity's most significant partners is Premera Blue Cross. As a health coach with Vivacity, you are responsible for working with clients like those with Premera health insurance plans to promote wellness. This means meeting one-on-one with them to develop customized plans that boost activity levels and improve nutrition, while at the same time discouraging habits like smoking and overeating.
Any of the following credentials can be beneficial when applying for this position:
Health Coach at Peak Motion Physical Therapy in Camas – Located just on the outskirts of Vancouver, this business has found its niche offering its clients coaching services as it relates to physical therapy. Staff health coaches help their clients reshape their lifestyles and eliminate – as much as possible – things like overeating, stress, and junk food. As a health coach at Peak Motion you advise your clients on exercise techniques, meal and food options, and healthy stress coping mechanisms.
Health coaches who currently work at Peak Motion have credentials that include:
Independent Health Coaching Business – There are many examples of health coaches throughout Washington who have started their own business. A great example is Inspire Transformation in Spokane, started by Naomi Teeter. In a story that has been recounted in The Huffington Post, Daily Mail, Marie Claire, and Lifehack, Teeter was 145 pounds in the fourth grade and consistently weighed in at between 275-300 pounds until she was 25 years old. Today she has managed to keep 150 pounds of weight off for over six years, and that is why she's one of the most sought-after health coaches in the Pacific Northwest – if not the nation. Teeter offers her clients health coaching that incorporates an analysis of daily stressors, diet, exercise, or lack thereof. Her professional qualifications include:
Additional Health Coach Resources
You can find additional health coaching resources throughout the state with these professional and governmental organizations:
Government Resources and Programs